THE SECRET LAND OPERATION HIGHJUMP U.S. NAVY ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION 1946 ADM. RICHARD BYRD 24972
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The Secret Land is a 1948 American documentary about an American expedition code-named "Operation High Jump" to explore Antarctica. It won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
The movie was entirely by military cameramen. The expedition was under the overall command of Admiral Richard E. Byrd, no stranger to the Antarctic. This was a large undertaking involving 13 ships and over 4000 thousand men. The fleet departed from Norfolk, Virginia traveling through the Panama canal and then southward to their final destination. The trip through the ice pack was fraught with danger and forced the submarine that was part of the fleet to withdraw. The trip was a success meeting all of its scientific goals. The film is narrated by three Hollywood stars, all of whom served in the US Navy: Robert Taylor, Robert Montgomery and Van Heflin.
In 1946, the U.S. Navy launches "Operation Highjump" to explore and map the Antarctic region and, in the process, test men, ships and equipment against the harsh climate. Chester W. Nimitz, Chief of Naval Operations, directs the expedition. Three groups make up the expedition: The central land-plane group, headed by Rear-Admiral Richard E. Byrd, will explore and map the interior from a base in Little America, while two other groups will explore and map the eastern and western coasts. The teams must finish their work before the end of the brief Antarctic summer. In addition to scientific equipment and other supplies, the ships carry sled dogs to provide land transportation. At the equator, men and dogs who have never crossed the equator are initiated in humorous King Neptune ceremonies.
When strong storms hit the ships in the southern hemisphere, many sailors are injured and several seaplanes are lost. The rough seas prevent the central group from landing at Scott Island, but despite this setback, the men onboard celebrate Christmas with a traditional dinner and gifts. The central group now depends on an icebreaker to cut a path through the ice pack in the Ross Sea to the Bay of Whales and the base at Little America on the Ross Ice Shelf. Meanwhile, the western group has reached Peter Island. From there, seaplanes scout the coast, where they find explorer Robert Scott's former camp. The progress of the central group is hampered by ice, and the submarine accompanying the ships is caught between two ice flows. The icebreaker returns to free the submarine, which is sent home.
While the western group waits for the icebreaker's return, they observe and capture for further study penguins, seals and other Antarctic wildlife. When the central group reaches Little America, the explorers unload their equipment and, making use of the twenty-four-hour summer daylight, quickly build a tent city and airstrips. Admiral
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